Men’s Clothing Guidelines 18th Century


These are the clothing guidelines for the New Acquisition Militia. It should not be necessary for us to have a policeman to enforce these guidelines. We MUST make an accurate interpretation – a large part of the interpretation is our clothing. The visitor’s learning experience at an event is dependent on you to be correct. This is your responsibility – if you are not sure, please ask. Do not be offended if someone questions what you are wearing, they are just trying to help. Also, remember that the 18th century experience dose not end when the visitor leaves. We cannot completely eliminate the 21st century, but we should be as close to the 18th century as possible for each other’s sake! This is still a time for us to learn.


1) Linen and wool were the fabrics of the lower, working class. Cotton was much harder to produce because of the seeds and because of its greater cost it was worn mostly by the upper class. This is backwards to our 21st century understanding! For the most part, color was dyed into the yarn before the cloth was woven. This is why purchased fabric needs to be yarn dyed or “homespun”. There were few printed fabrics – be careful with them. Men did wear some buckskin clothing, BUT complained that it was very cold when wet!

2) Your clothing reflects your station in life and your occupation. If you were in the Virginia capital, you would see much finer clothing than would be seen in the Carolina back country. We were known for dressing down – read Woodmason! A working person would be dressed much more plainly than a merchant or prosperous farmer. Your dress should be consistent and not mix the fancy with the ordinary – picture a woman in a fancy ball gown with center seam moccasins working in the fields!


3) SHIRTS- Fabric- cotton, muslin, wool, osnaburg and linen. The shirt should have gussets at the neck and sleeve. Checked, plaid, and windowpane (plaid with wide and narrow crossing stripes) patterns are appropriate, but should be of a woven, yarn dyed pattern and not printed.

4) BREECHES- Fly front and fall front are appropriate. With an adjustable gusset in the back. Buttoned, tied, or buckled at the knee. Fly front trousers with waist gusset, and long narrow legs are appropriate. Fabric- cotton canvas, wool or linen or leather.

5) WAISTCOAT- 1750-1780’s era is appropriate. Fabric- cotton, wool, silk and linen. The French and Indian era, 1750-1760 is longer in length than the Rev. war era. Also sleeved waistcoats are appropriate. Materials, same as above.

6) NECK STOCK, RUFFLED STOCK AND NECKERCHIEF- Fabric- cotton, linen or silk. The neck and ruffled stock are worn under the collar. The neckerchief can be worn under the collar, or loosely tied around the neck. Leather was also used as neck stocks.

7) STOCKINGS- Fabric- cotton or wool knitted or sewn from fabric cut on the bias. Over the knee style with a wide variety of colors. No stripes.

8) HUNTING FROCKS AND SHIRTS- Fabric- cotton osnaburg, jacket weight cotton canvas or linen. The hunting shirt is made pullover style, but can be cut so that it can be wrapped around you. Both are made with capes to help ward off the water. Colors should be of colors that blend well in the woods, but other colors were used.

9) OUTER WEAR- Blanket shirts and Capotes made out of wool are appropriate, and nice on cold days. A woolen short jacket is also appropriate. The civilian coat can be used in a variety of fabrics. Wool, linen or cotton is acceptable, with many different colors. The Watch cloak, which is semi-fitted with collar and circular shoulder Cape. Generally made of wool.

10) BREECH CLOUT (CLOTH)- If you choose to interpret a backwoodsman, breechclouts made out of linen, wool or cotton are correct.

11) LEGGINS- Fabric- tanned leather or wool. Leggings were used to keep your legs from getting torn up in the woods. Also helps to keep you warm. Farmers used wool leggings over their stockings to keep them clean. The length was from the top of the foot to over the knee. They were tied with garters below the knee and tied, either to a belt or a leather thong, which also held up the breechclout.

12) SASHS AND BELTS- Sashes were generally 3 inches wide by 7 feet long, which was wrapped around your waist. Used by backwoodsmen in the place of a belt, or with. Belts generally are 2 to 3 inches wide, with either a forged iron buckle or cast brass. Belts were used to keep your hunting frock closed and to carry either a knife or sword. Sashes were also used along with a belt, which was befitting of an officer.

13) HEADWEAR- Wool felt, straw, linen and wool. The slouch hat could be used in a variety of fashions. Pinning up the left side of the hat, in the rifleman’s style, putting up 3 sides to make a tri-corn (which does not keep the sun out of your face), or just leaving the brim of the hat to “slouch” down. Linen work caps are also appropriate. Bonnets are known to have been used, but documentation has not been found in this part of the country.

14) EYEGLASSES- If you wear glasses, Jas. Townsend and Co. sell 18th century reproduction glasses for $48. Lenses can be had for about $25 from your eye doctor. Nothing ruins your perfect interpretation more than modern glasses.

15) SHOES- Fugawee Corp. puts out several different styles of men’s shoes. If you are new to the group, ask a veteran for help, and we will get you the right shoes. As with most quality issues, you are better off doing it right the first time.

16) BOOTS- At this time period, the boots ended at the bottom of the knee with a 4 or 5-inch section of the brown boot leather lining doubled back down. You can buy military surplus boots, and with some work, make a presentable pair of 18th century boots. These are much more comfortable than the low heeled straight last shoe, and are appropriate for a farmer or city dweller interpretation. Again, if you are new ask someone for their help.

17) CENTERSEAM MOCCASINS OR SHOEPACKS- If you wish to interpret a long hunter these are the most appropriate to wear. THERE IS NO DOCUMENTATION FOR KNEE LENGTH MOCCASINS, SO PLEASE AVOID THIS MISTAKE. Again, if you have a question, ask.